This past weekend there was not much planned being that the next few weeks are going to be hectic. However, I decided to check out the Dia de Los Muertos festival in Uptown Whittier because I have never been to one before. Every year I would hear great things about the vendors and the spirit (no pun intended) people represent each year and I definitely wanted to witness it myself.
I arrived early Sunday afternoon and parking was easy to find which is always a plus when attending an annual festival. When I arrived I noticed a lot of vendors, however, not many in the spirit, but it was great to see the few that were. There was Aztec and ballet folklorico dancing in celebration of the deceased as well as a best costume in remembrance. The stunning pin-up model Ariana Rodriguez was a perfect example and looked darling in red and white.
Down the street, I spotted visitor Ana Palmira who looked elegant in this traditional Mexican folk dress- Ana and her husband (didn’t catch his name) were sweet as pie. I practically jumped in front of Joanna Gutierrez and Adam Cruz to snap a picture of their beautiful family. They were actually very kind not to freak out.
After making my way to a few vendors, I saw this blue Johnny Cash canvas painting (Above - far right) that I knew I had to stop by and check. The artist, Miranda Calvin, has been painting for four years and has captured a lot of portraits who amazingly enough are freestyle. I mentioned that the “morenita” pin up resembled a lot like pin-up model Sharon Escamilla and I loved it because not many females with a darker skin tone get recognition. A canvas painting of a skeleton was a quick buy for Martha Ramirez. Once she saw it, she knew she had to have it and Miranda was kind enough to autograph it. Miranda was a doll from the minute I introduced myself. Her personality was kind, friendly and her passion for art radiated out of her. She is a true inspiration.
Zully (not Zulema) was a riot when I met her. A young spirit (no pun intended) with a passion for the rockabilly scene. She had a massive variety of hair pins, Latin culture hand fans, and a massive amount of wallets. Her collection was inexpensive- something I can always appreciate.
Alex Castaneda’s is a graphic artist whose paintings consist of spray paint. When I saw his artwork from afar, I was impressed by the detail he was able to create with such a difficult tool.
Artist Paulina has a combination of artwork on clothing and on canvas. Her, Dia de Los Muertos Audrey Hepburn and the "Andy Warhol" Frida Kahlo were my personal favorites. She was also a featured artist on the face painting for Drop Dead Gorgeous- a vendor booth at the festival.
Paz Gonzalez has a trade that the entire family gets involved in. Paz has been creating these miniature figurines from scratch for eight years. Her dedication truly shows. If and when I get married (if I don’t end up like one of these skeleton brides waiting for “Mr. Right”) the bride and groom will definitely be the cake topper in my wedding.
Vendor Valeria Ramirez had a simple creative style that grabbed my attention. Her skull shot glasses painted in Dia de Los Muertos designs was something I hadn’t seen before. I LOVED her candles with the theme printed on them. They are inexpensive and great for decorating the house with.
Towards the end of my day I encountered two rude vendors. I tried not letting them ruin my day, but unfortunately when people act as though they are “too good” I can’t help, but feel frustrated. In the end my encounter with my lovely friend and pin-up model, Leslye Rox, and the classy pin-up model and burlesque dancer, Ruby Champagne brightened up the rest of my day.
Paul Barrientos was my last meet. He was posted next to the classic cars and what caught my eye was his, “Bump Now Bump Later” painting on print. I found it to be a great expression of what music does for emotions. Paul was kind and funny (NOT “kind of” funny) and his genuine interaction with me instilled the hope I needed to continue to enjoy my evening.
Content & Photos by Ryan Cash